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South African Government Says Mandela Still Critical, but Stable

Young boys read get well messages with a photograph of former South African President Nelson Mandela, outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, July 1, 2013.
The South African government says former President Nelson Mandela remains in "critical but stable" condition at the Pretoria hospital where he was admitted last month.

In a statement Monday, President Jacob Zuma thanked all South Africans for keeping the anti-apartheid icon and his family in their prayers. He urged the country to continue plans for Mandela's 95th birthday on July 18.

Mandela has remained at Pretoria's Mediclinic Heart Hospital since he was rushed there June 8 for a recurring lung infection.

Several friends of Mandela, including fellow political prisoner Andrew Mlangeni visited him Monday at the hospital.

Also Monday, members of the ruling African National Congress marched to the hospital and sang songs outside in support of the former president.

For weeks, groups of well-wishers have gathered outside the hospital, delivering flowers and messages of support.

Mandela is considered a national hero in South Africa for his role in ending official racial discrimination and white-minority rule. After spending 27 years in prison, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and was elected South Africa's first black president the following year.